Even Car Enthusiasts Will Want a Self Driving Car.

With an abundance of space and not much else the rural parts of Australia aren’t really the place where a kid has much to entertain themselves with. From the age of about 12 however my parents let us kids bash our way around the property in all manner of vehicles which has then fed into a lifelong obsession with cars. This has been in direct competition with my financially sensible side however as cars are a depreciating asset, one that no amount of money invested in them can ever recoup. However I still enjoy the act of driving itself, especially if it’s through some of Australia’s more picturesque landscapes. You’d think then that the idea of a self driving car would be abhorrent to a person like myself but in reality it’s anything but.

Google Self Driving Car LexusWe’re fast approaching the time when cars that can drive themselves to and from any location are not only technically feasible, they’re a few short steps away from being a commercial reality. Google’s self driving car, whilst it has only left its home town a couple times, has demonstrated that it’s quite possible to arm a car with a bevy of sensors and have it react better than a human would in many situations. Indeed the accidents their car has been involved in have not been the fault of the software, but of the humans either controlling the self driving car or those ramming into the back of it. Whilst there’s still many regulatory hurdles to go before these things are seen en-masse on our roads it would seem like having them there would be a huge boon to everyone, especially those travelling as its passengers.

For me whilst driving isn’t an unpleasant experience it’s still a time where I’m unable to do anything else but drive the car. Now I’m not exactly your stereotypical workaholic (I will keep a standard hour day and attempt to automate most of my work instead) but having an extra hour or so a day where I can complete a few tasks, or even just catch up on interesting articles, would be pretty handy. Indeed this is the reason why I still fly most places when travelling for business, even when the flight from Canberra to the other capitals is below an hour total. It’s not me doing the driving which allows me to get things done rather than spending multiple hours watching the odometer.

There’s also those numerous times when neither the wife nor I feel like driving and we could simply hand over to the car for the trip. I can even imagine it reducing our need to have separate cars as I could simply have the car drop my wife off and return to me if I needed it. That’s a pretty huge benefit and one that’s well worth paying a bit of a premium for.

This would also have the unintentional benefit of making those times when I wanted to drive that much more enjoyable. Nothing takes the fun out of something that enjoy than being forced to do it all the time for another purpose, something which driving to work every day certainly did for me. If I was only driving when I wanted to however I feel that I’d enjoy it far more than I’d otherwise would. I think a lot of car enthusiasts will feel the same way as few drive their pride and joys to work every day, instead having a daily driver that they run on the cheap. Of course some will abhor the experience in its entirety but you get that with any kind of new technology.

For me this technology can not come quick enough as the benefits are huge with the only downside being the likely high cost of acquisition. I’ve only been speaking from a personal viewpoint here too as there’s far much more to be gained once self driving cars reach a decent level of penetration among the wider community.

That’s a blog post for another day, however.


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  1. One obvious ramification would be the slow and steady increase in traffic congestion.

    During the early adopters phase, traffic should be fine, but after the first 16% of consumers pick it up (Chris Maloney, 2010), the amount of cars on the road would increase dramatically. Parking lots would start to dwindle, as people could easily and potentially much more affordably – just send their car home.

    This might make parking in say, the Sydney CBD a thing of the past, but then sending the car back into the city to pick you up at the end of the day might mean the vehicle only arriving back at destination from the morning trip to having to turn around and come straight back again. Not such an issue for Canberra at this stage – but in 10–15 years time when the consumer market has started to pick up this tech, we may see the same issues the GDE had with just one lane.

  2. I would argue the exact opposite, traffic congestion should decrease as the number of automated cars increases.I couldn’t find the reference you noted to there so forgive me if I’m responding to points that are already addressed in it.

    Self driving cars would be much better traffic citizens, able to move in a much more cohesive fashion than we currently do. This would likely arise spontaneously as the number of automated cars increases however it could be drastically increased in effectiveness by the use of a central traffic database that all cars can draw on and, if people are willing, be directed by in order to maximise traffic throughput. I see no reason for the number of cars to increase dramatically after the introduction of this technology, indeed I’d argue that people would instead hire cars more on an as needed basis. I know that for my situation we could easily do with owning just a single car and using an automated service for the other trips.

    The car doesn’t necessarily need to go all the way home, in fact it could very well find parking in areas that would otherwise be infeasible previously (say a 1 hour walk but 10 minute drive away). In fact that’s a perfect case for an automated hire company if the only feasible local parking is for the car to return home. There’s an argument to be made that this hire company would likely need a lot more cars than a taxi company currently does but that would just be a function of demand, something I’m sure many companies (like Uber for instance) would be happy to accommodate.

    In fact ridesharing programs would likely explode in this scenario, allow you to rent out your car during the day when you don’t need it. This solves the parking issue whilst also providing a potential revenue stream for those who still wish to own their own car.

    Again forgive me if I’m retreading road that’s already been covered here and if you have a link for that note I’d love to read it.

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